U.S Air Force on Thursday said that it choose SpaceX to send military’s top-secret satellite in space on its Falcon Heavy rocket. The satellite is known as AFSPC-52 which is scheduled to launch in 2020, according to U.S Airforce. For this mission two proposals were submitted, the other one was from United Launch Alliance (ULA), the joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, in which SpaceX beats the ULA.
In order to get the contract, the companies reduce the cost for the government, the average price for the launch of Delta 4 is $350 million, and NASA’s Heavy-lift rocket hasn’t constructed yet.
Commander Lt. Gen. John Thompson said on thursday, “Choosing SpaceX fits the mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our Nation while maintaining assured access to space.”
Although SpaceX spent two years and at least $60 million to get Falcon 9 certified for military missions, they also filed a lawsuit against USAF to get military certification for Falcon 9, but later the lawsuit was dropped. That’s why by Awarding SpaceX U.S air force is placing their confidence in the rocket who only launched once. SpaceX also able to grab USAF multiple projects.
SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement, “SpaceX is honored by the Air Force’s selection of Falcon Heavy to launch the competitively-awarded AFSPC-52 mission. “I want to thank the Air Force for certifying Falcon Heavy, awarding us this critically important mission, and for their trust and confidence in our company. SpaceX is pleased to continue offering the American taxpayer the most cost-effective, reliable launch services for vital national security space missions.”
Elon Musk CEO of SpaceX said, “The great thing about Falcon heavy is that it opens up a new class of payload, “It could launch one more than twice as much payload as any other rocket in the world, so it’s up to customers what they might want to launch. But it can launch things direct to Pluto and beyond. No stop needed.”
The Falcon Heavy will cost almost $300 million to construct and develop, apart from the discount that SpaceX offers to the government over competitors, Musk still expects to gain profit. The company hasn’t announced any official launch date yet, probably it would send Heavy Falcon in October according to a recent report.